Mintz
Contributor
Contributor

USB support

Hi. Just a quick question.

What is the state of affairs with USB support for ESX and ESXi?

We are a software development house and use a USB dongle for licensing. A customer of ours would like to deploy our software in a virtual environment. I know that passthrough USB is supported in VMware Workstation 6.5 but I'm not clear about its support in ESX/ESXi. Is it supported in versions 3.5 or version 4.0? I believe our customer is currently running ESX 3.5. But I would like to know to what extent it is supported in all ESX/ESXi products.

Regards

Eugene Gill

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15 Replies

In the 3.5 version it is not supported (and I don't think it will be in future updates). In ESX 4.0 you now can attach the Virtual Machine with usb devices.

Marcelo Soares

VMWare Certified Professional 310

Technical Support Engineer

Linux Server Senior Administrator

Marcelo Soares
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Mintz
Contributor
Contributor

And that applies to both ESX and ESXi?

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Sorry for the misinformation (I read your question calmly now...). You can't add devices, just controllers, inside VMs. Either at ESXi or ESX.

I think that, by now, you will not be able to do what you want.

Marcelo Soares

VMWare Certified Professional 310

Technical Support Engineer

Linux Server Senior Administrator

Marcelo Soares
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Mintz
Contributor
Contributor

I'm sorry but your second answer is not at all clear to me.

I'll try to explain what I want to know one more time.

Our customer would like to run our software in a virtual environment. Our software licensing is managed by the attachment of a USB dongle. I have tested our software on a VMware workstation 6.5 guest with a USB dongle attached to the host machine with the USB device passed through to the guest OS and this configuration worked . Our customer would like to run our software in a VMware guest with a USB dongle attached to the host machine, but they are currently running ESX 3.5.

I would like to know whether it is possible to pass through USB devices (in this case our dongle) from host to guest on ESX and/or ESXi. Which versions of ESX and ESXi support this? In your first answer you said that it is supported on 4.0 but not on 3.5, but you were not clear on whether you were referring to both ESX and ESXi, and so I asked for clarification; but I cannot work out what you are trying to say in the second answer.

Regards

Eugene Gill

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jrenton
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

You could consider Ethernet attached USB Hubs. Belkin do one: and also digi:

This will give you the desired effect of presenting USB to your virtual machines..

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Mintz
Contributor
Contributor

Rentobi thank you for your response, but please a simple answer to my question.

ESX 3.5 USB passthrouh Yes or No?

ESXi 3.5 USB passthrouh Yes or No?

ESX 4.0 USB passthrouh Yes or No?

ESXi 4.0 USB passthrouh Yes or No?

Regards

Eugene Gill

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The answer is no for all 4 questions.

Rentobi only gave you an example on how to workaround with USB over ethernet. ESX in any version will NOT give you what you want.

Marcelo Soares

VMWare Certified Professional 310

Technical Support Engineer

Linux Server Senior Administrator

Marcelo Soares
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jrenton
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

The usb over ethernet work well in a vm environment. Just install a driver into your vm and you get plug and play usb devices. This is the best way of resolving your problems.

HARDWARE - SOFTWARE - NETWORKING & SUPPORT

John Renton

Senior IT Consultant

Department

IT Department

Storm Technologies

Unit 40/41 Park House

Greenhill Crescent

Watford Business Park

Watford Hertfordshire WD18 8PH

Email

mailto:John.Renton@storm-technologies.com

www

http://www.storm-technologies.com/

Tel: +44(0)1923 801080

Fax: +44(0)1923252106

Mob: +44(0)7813913323

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Mintz
Contributor
Contributor

Marcelo

Thank you for your response.

I have reread your initial answer and I now see that you thought that I wanted to run a VM from a USB device.

I thought my question was a fairly simple one, so I didn't bother to search the forums closely. I had found a reference from July of last year which suggested that an update of ESX 3.5 would implement USB passthough so I posted my question unsure of whether it had been implemented in an update of 3.5 , but assuming that it had been implemented in 4.0.

It seems suprising that this feature has not been implemented as it available on VMware workstation.

John. Thank you for your answer. I did not intend to give the impression that I was not grateful for it, for indeed it appears to be a solution for my customer. It will be interesting to see if the licensing dongle works across ethernet.

I have now read one or two other threads on this subject and it appears that the passthrough functionalilty is only partially implemented for V4.0 and only works with certain hardware. see[http://communities.vmware.com/message/1263548#1263548|m-1263548]

Regards

Eugene Gil

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Jackobli
Virtuoso
Virtuoso

It will be interesting to see if the licensing dongle works across ethernet.

You or your boss should think about other ways to implement copy protection or license management.

Dongles are just cr.p.

It's not only VMware. Ever thought about software running on Citrix/Terminalservers? These servers are today mostly blades, so you got no serial, no parallel and no usb.

On our environment dongles are usually a killer criteria for not using such a software.

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Mintz
Contributor
Contributor

Jackobli wrote:Mintz wrote:
It will be interesting to see if the licensing dongle works across ethernet. You or your boss should think about other ways to implement copy protection or license management.


Dongles are just cr.p.
It's not only VMware. Ever thought about software running on Citrix/Terminalservers? These servers are today mostly blades, so you got no serial, no parallel and no usb.
On our environment dongles are usually a killer criteria for not using such a software.

Unfortunately that is not my decision. Our software is for a very specialized market and comes at a very high price, we have had reports of attempts to bypass our software protection from users in the far-east. We've found other forms of software protection problematic in other ways.

You could consider Ethernet attached USB Hubs. Belkin do one: and also digi:

This will give you the desired effect of presenting USB to your virtual machines..

John, I just purchared such a device from Maplins (http://www.maplin.co.uk/module.aspx?moduleno=221384) and it works fine on a VM machine running in VMware Workstation, however the driver software operates as a tray application and it requires a login. Do you happen to know whether the Belkin or Digi device driver runs as a service?

Regards

Eugene Gill

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DSTAVERT
Immortal
Immortal

I would check out the network USB devices from Digi, Belkin, and Silex. They do work for some situations. There are also software solutions that will map a usb port on one machine to a virtual one.

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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Mintz
Contributor
Contributor

Sorry this bit ended up in the wrong section looking like I was quoting ...

John, I just purchared such a device from Maplins ()

and it works fine on a VM machine running in VMware Workstation,

however the driver software operates as a tray application and it

requires a login. Do you happen to know whether the Belkin or Digi

device driver runs as a service?

Regards

Eugene Gill

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DSTAVERT
Immortal
Immortal

Have a look at http://www.firedaemon.com/. It allows you to run an application as a service. You may be able to do it manually http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa940072%28WinEmbedded.5%29.aspx

-- David -- VMware Communities Moderator
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jrenton
Hot Shot
Hot Shot

I am not sure as it is over a year since I tested these devices and I do not have one where I am currently. One thing you could look into is using a tool like firedaemon to run your system tray exe as a service. You can download a free trial to test.

HARDWARE - SOFTWARE - NETWORKING & SUPPORT

John Renton

Senior IT Consultant

Department

IT Department

Storm Technologies

Unit 40/41 Park House

Greenhill Crescent

Watford Business Park

Watford Hertfordshire WD18 8PH

Email

mailto:John.Renton@storm-technologies.com

www

http://www.storm-technologies.com/

Tel: +44(0)1923 801080

Fax: +44(0)1923252106

Mob: +44(0)7813913323

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